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Tuesday Teaser: Curious Incidents

Published August 8, 2017 by admin

So I haven’t been completely nonexistent during this past stretch of self-reflection. I’m way late on this, but hey, promo is promo, amiright? So one of the projects I had the challenge of working on is a paranormal Sherlock Holmes anthology called Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures.

 This was not the easiest story for me to write – I hadn’t read Sherlock since Jr. High, when I’d binged as much as possible during free time during homeroom, a trait that obviously made me insanely popular and all the cute dudes in my class fall at my feet. Obviously, I had to be careful, because the pure power in that knowledge is obviously very potent, so I kept it locked away for a long time.

And if you’re new to this blog, welcome to the sarcastic portion of the evening.

Anywho, I’ve seen the show, but was warned against doing anything too close to that. Besides, these were alternate universe adventures – put Sherlock and Watson in another time period, place, get them out of the comfort zone, anything but Victorian England, please!

And because I am an editor’s nightmare, I put Sherlock on a futuristic space station after the end of planet earth, and just to be a brat I added in a lot of Victorian England via holodecks.

Also, Sherlock is an AI. Kinda. And there’s a new medic character named Jane that has her own mystery to solve. And a monster shows up murdering people in the holodeck nightclubs because it’s me, so of course it does.

So it’s out and there are a lot of fantastic authors in this one. It’s gotten some great reviews, and I’m admittedly pretty proud of my contribution, which is titled Reborn.  And because I love you all and don’t feel like thinking up original content, here’s an excerpt:

curious incidents

The halls of the space station Reborn were pristine and bright, a maze of metal and plastic sterility. They were in sharp contrast to the illusion gardens in the various sectors, of which Clapham was one. Though it was late, enough people were still enjoying the night’s entertainment. The theme was Old England, so couples enjoyed quaint hologram theater shows and others, like Lucy Scaleton and Alsop Addison, soaked up the unusual experience of walking nighttime streets.

“Let’s move away from the urchins. I know they make things realistic, but they’re creepy,” Lucy murmured. “We need to find the exit before things shut down and the security mechs scan for the night.”

Alsop nodded and they increased their pace. “I’m almost glad we don’t have to deal with streets. The hall layouts are much simpler.” She hissed when her foot brushed through the long skirt, sending ripples through the false image that revealed her jumpsuit underneath. “Clothes today are easier, too.”

“It’s all so realistic, though. Especially with all the scents and sounds piped in, never mind the temp changes. Holo-tech has come such a long way.” Lucy took hold of her friend’s arm with a sheepish expression. “I know we’re safe, but…”

“Let’s get home before they turn everything off for the night and ruin the fun!” Alsop tugged her down an alley. “I think this shortcuts to the exit.” She trailed frowned when they hit a dead end.

“Al—”

“I could’ve sworn this was an exit.”

“’Scuse me, miss, but spare a quid on a cold night?”

The pair jumped, then shared an exasperated look. Alsop turned to address the fellow behind them, tossing her blonde curls. “Stupid programming,” she grumbled before addressing the image. “It’s late and we need to get home.” The looming form didn’t budge or disappear. “Hey, I mean it. Bugger off or we’ll just go through you!” The shadowed gentleman’s shoulders bobbed in a silent laugh.

“This isn’t Jack the Ripper night, is it?” Lucy whispered, hand clenched tight on her friend’s arm.

“Don’t be silly. It can’t hurt you. It’s just another damn hologram!” Alsop snapped and strode right into the moving shadow.

Silver flashed and rippled. The blonde jerked with the impact, her holo-costume fading away to reveal her slashed jumpsuit. She stared at the ripped fabric, dumbfounded. “What on earth?” The concept of actual danger was so foreign. Instinctively, still expecting the shadowed mass to dissolve into static and code, she struck at it and felt her stomach drop when it touched real fabric and something warm underneath.

The looming figure that was now too real, too threatening, too substantial pounced again. The shadowed figure grabbed the blonde and silver lashed out, sending crimson spraying right through the false images of the ancient London alleyway, spattering the metal projection walls underneath. The holograms couldn’t fully form with the intrusion, making the length of the alley a flickering, macabre trap. Alsop’s painful scream tore through the nighttime sounds and distant music.

Her friend screamed with her, the sound shrill and useless against the assailant. “No, no! Let her go, this isn’t supposed to happen! Security!” Lucy panicked as she struggled with her the other girl’s falling body, frantically looking for the cameras and police units. Unhindered, the thing shoved Alsop away. The gasping blonde fell back into her friend, sending them both to the floor, revealing metal underneath the cobblestones. Cold laughter prompted them to look up and when they did, the alley was nothing but screams and blue fire.

***

Want to find out more? How about stories where Sherlock and Watson deal with vampires or find themselves in other time periods? You can find all of that in Curious Incidents, available here on kindle or here in print!

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Book Blast: Evolution: The Revelation by Jim Reilly

Published February 29, 2016 by admin

Time for another book blast while I prep my other posts for this month!

Evolution-Blast-Banner

 

Evolution

 

Title:  Evolution: The Revelation

Author:   Jim Reilly

Published:  February 28th, 2016

Publisher:   Sayville Books

Genre:  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Religion

The Revelation is  Jim Reilly’s follow-up to his science fiction novel, Evolution. In The  Revelation cloaked Ancient Visitors plan man’s future enslavement for a  menacing purpose. Two groups, one in the present and one a thousand  years in the future, investigate a conspiracy thousands of years in the  making. In the present, Jennifer and David Cho’s son Cameron’s  investigation uncovers a plot to continue what Bishop Terapion started.  In the future, Steven Moran and his team combat the mysterious Prince  and the Ancient Visitor armada heading for Earth

The present and  future look at scripture for clues as they learn the battle is bigger  than all of them. Religion and science are once again at the forefront  and must work together to overcome the Ancient Visitors. Not only are  the people of Earth in peril, but the whole universe is in jeopardy of  eradication from existence. The present and the future discover shrouded  secrets full of mystery needed to be solved to save mankind, but will  it be too late?

The Revelation  explores mankind’s resolve to fight for its future. Will mankind’s fight  be successful or will the Ancient Visitors succeed in enslaving mankind  to supplement their army used for a battle for the heavens? Jim  Reilly’s Evolution explored mankind’s roots. The Revelation explores  where we are going from here

Amazon | GoodReads

31st Century.

 

“Thirty survivors?” asked Steven Moran. “It can’t be! There were only twenty-nine of us!”

He quickly jumped up out of his sickbay bed and grabbed the Super Homo sapiens nurse by the arm, “Can I see the list of survivors? Please, it’s important.”

The enhanced woman waved her hand and a virtual reality image illuminated the list of survivors.

The former Kansas wrestler with Midwestern rugged farm boy features and an impressive muscular physique, even for an enhanced Super Homo sapiens, viewed the list and asked, “Are all of them out of the sleeping pods?”

“Yes…” she replied, with wonder in her voice about his motives.

“That name there, Walter Sikes. He survived?”

“Yes, he’s resting comfortably on a lower deck two floors down.”

“Show me where I can find him?”

She showed him a diagram of the tremendous spacecraft traveling a great distance from Earth. “Why do you want to know about him?”

He dashed out of the ship’s sickbay room without looking back. “Because he died on the mission and shouldn’t be here.”

The nurse sounded the alarm, but Steven was already halfway down the hallway grabbing an orderly to take him on the lift system to get to the right floor and Walter Sikes’ room.

As the lift took him two floors below, a hologram of the ship’s captain, Commander Christine Carroll was projected in front of Steven. “I understand we may have a stowaway?”

“That’s right,” he responded, “I personally witnessed Walter being killed in the initial battle aboard the alien craft.  He was cut down by the mysterious entity ruling the Ancient Visitors, aliens or whatever they were. I helped set every one of the survivors in the sleeping pods when we escaped the Ancient Visitors ship’s destruction. I can, without any doubt, say that Walter was not one of them. Whoever that is, it isn’t Walter Sikes.”

“Well then, we’ll need to talk to Mr. Sikes,” said Commander Christine Carroll, an old by-the-book veteran leader, as she mentally linked the conversation to her security detail. “Please apprehend Walter Sikes for questioning and use extreme caution.”

When Steven reached Walter’s sickbay room, he and the arriving security detail found a pair of unconscious nurses lying on the floor next to the recovery bed.

The leader of the security detail tapped his earpiece linked to his mind and the hologram of the ship’s captain reappeared. “The target is not here and is on the run. He is also not showing up on our sensors.”

As security personnel attended the fallen nurses, Steven looked around at the empty sickbay room.  He detected the holographic screens that were used to scan patients. “How would he escape the ship?”

Without answering Steven, the Captain ordered, “All security personnel report to the transport docking bay immediately.” Images of Walter Sikes began showing in every corner of the ship.

When Steven and the security detail arrived at the docking bay, they were met by the Captain in person who ordered the door of the docking bay to be opened.  When the door wouldn’t open as requested, she ran to the large window looking into the bay. Many of her personnel were scattered along the floor, at the very least, unconscious. It was then that one of the transports powered up and fled the docking bay into space. Without the interior pressure, the transport glided up and out of the docking bay into space. The various unconscious bodies began floating up and out following the transport as the docking bay’s atmosphere was sucked into the darkness of space. Seconds later the wide metal doors shut; the Captain mentally initiated the containment field.

Steven, in all the confusion going on, wondered out loud, “We shouldn’t have come back. Look what we did. We brought one back, and it may be the worst of them all.”

Hearing Steven’s words, the Captain responded, “We’ve had to deal with them in the past, our ancient ancestors had been changed by them. Then there was Bishop Terapion during the Followers of Divinity conflict.  It didn’t stop there as there were others.”

Steven ran his hands over his face and through his hair then said, “There were others?”

As the Captain tracked the ship heading toward Earth on the computer in her mind, she ordered the helmsmen to set a course to intercept and then alerted her communication officer to warn Earth Command.  She then looked at Steven and repeated, “Yes, there were others…”

Jim-Reilly

 

Jim Reilly is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels, Evolution and Seaville. He is a married father of four, born and raised in Long Island. From an early age, Jim always had a fascination with science, religion, and science fiction. He now enjoys leveraging those interests to develop fascinating and unique stories.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | GoodReads | blog

Comic Review Roundup

Published December 2, 2015 by admin

So along with people foolishly inviting my writer-type opinions on their sites, I’ve been invited to guest review for the awesome blog I Smell Sheep. And more than once, too!

Seriously, this is something that’s been a ton of fun so far. While it’s still my policy to not officially review small press or indie books (obviously I still give my general thoughts on library books in my SJ Reads posts), I’m all about reviewing comics and movies if someone’s going to enable me. While I do read a few superhero titles, I have a passion for the fact that graphic novels can really tell stories in a unique way – from realistic titles like Persepolis, The Property, Fun House, or something meant to mirror reality like Maus, to epic stories like Sandman or horror titles like Locke & Key. There are some truly unique titles out there that aren’t getting the love they deserve or people may not know unless they specifically follow a certain title or publisher, so I love the chance to discover new titles and share them with others.

Since these were done for the I Smell Sheep Blog, I’ll spare you full reviews and link you to the actual ones. I’ll have to divide this up because I’ve actually done more than I realized, but here’s the first batch.

Dark Horse Comics Presents # 15 – Admittedly one of the reasons I jumped on board was because I knew the blog had an in with Dark Horse and I had just discovered Finder and I love it with an unholy passion. So when this title came up and featured serialized Finder, I was ready to fight to the bitter end for it. Truly, though, every story in this issue was fantastic and has opened me up to some other titles I can’t wait to check out.

Dead Vengeance 1 -A carnival sideshow act comes to life and tries to figure out who he really is. A lot of flashbacking, but a really interesting set up that reminds me of the older Creepy and Eerie titles.

Dead Vengeance 2 – More information on John Dover’s tragic past, as well as a unique allusion to a possible time travel element, plus it takes us back to the carnival!

Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 1 – Love this. So ridiculous in the best possible ways. Dr. Zomboss tries to take over town with some help from the future…and a metal butt. Brings to mind a lot of the Saturday morning cartoons I used to love watching.

Love Hurts: The Complete Love Hurts (Horrifying Tales of Romance) – Translated from a Swiss comic, I believe, this is amazing. I love this thing. A collection of short stories that blend horror and romance elements, these are twisted, warped, insightful, emotional, and just so inventive I can’t stand it. Loved.

 

 

 

 

 

Excerpt: Across the Universe

Published September 10, 2015 by admin

Today’s excerpt is again from Lost in the Shadows, and it’s one of those stories where the idea hit me hard but it took me a while to give myself permission to write it. I’m not a hard sci-fi writer by any means, but I love the more emotional and literary work of Ray Bradbury. Plus, when I heard a radio report about how the song Across the Universe had been beamed into space, well, I couldn’t not write this. This is also one of those stories that prompted Susan to ask what the hell was going on in my head at any given moment, heh. This is only a small part of the story, but it’s very much a love letter to one of my favorite authors as well as my deep connection to music. In the story a group of select criminals with a generations-old grudge set out to obliterate a certain planet, but run into a rather odd communication signal in the meantime.

***

“Excellent,” Spaulding purred. “I don’t need to remind you all how important this is. Failure is unacceptable. If you fail the Coordinators attempt for any reason and live, I have permission to execute you myself.” It wasn’t an empty threat. Her own strength was that she’d come from a long line of murderers. While that wasn’t particularly atypical on Planet 1312, the Spaulding line had turned it into an art form. It wasn’t that she was sadistic, although she could be, or brutal, though she had been. It was that she knew when to use her gift and how to use it to the fullest ability.

That was the trait every one of them shared. They were the experts the inhabitants of Planet 1312 strived to be. After all, in a society populated entirely by descendants of criminals, it was still important to take pride in one’s worth and strive to be the very best.

Long ago, when Earth had just begun to get a handle on long-range space travel, its first uses hadn’t been for exploration or discovery, but exploitation. With NASA’s influence fading, private corporations had funded the technology in hopes of opening up a new vacation industry, not to mention the opportunities colonization could bring.

First, though, the shuttles had to be tested. Times being what they were, they had ben filled with the overflow from prisons, homeless shelters, and even a few of the more vocal dissident groups had been plucked off the streets to fill space along with a handful of daring, clueless scientists. Family members and friends had simply disappeared from their lives and work one day. Some of their relations had never found out that they weren’t dead, but in a stark metal box hurtling through space.

After a good year of travel, the shuttle landed on Planet 1312. It was further than the shuttle should have traveled, but those that had volunteered (or had been volunteered) to lead the expedition were well-aware that kinks in the system still had to be worked out. It wasn’t until they tried to arrange their return flight that they realized there wasn’t enough fuel to get back to Earth and thesupply logs had been doctored. Only then was the full scope of the plan realized by those stranded on the planet.

They were well out of reach of communication, but the planet was fortuitously habitable if one didn’t mind reverting back to primal instincts. Many died in the following centuries. Those that didn’t never forgot their hardened roots or their betrayal. Miraculously, through luck and sheer force of will, the little society adapted and evolved, eventually regaining some semblance of technology and standard of living. Now, nearly a thousand years later, their descendants were returning home to deliver a long-overdue thank you gift.

The captain smiled a cruel little grin, the only admission of pleasure she’d allow herself during such a serious mission. “And you’re certain we shall meet with no retaliation?”

“We shouldn’t. Our communications and data retrieval are slow, to be sure, but reports over the past ten years indicate that attention is focused inward. All surrounding colonies have been called back to help with the war that’s been going on,” Natalo replied, her lovely face turned stern as she focused on the readouts glowing across her screen.

“If they’re so desperate to destroy themselves, we’ll be happy to help them out,” Kirksan quipped. The others snickered and although the lack of focus irritated Spaulding, she allowed it. It wasn’t like there would be time for celebration afterwards if things went according to plan.

As expected, everyone went right back to what they were doing after their mirth was spent. There wasn’t time for wasted emotions. Anger and a long-taught need for vengeance had followed them all their lives. The story of their civilization and how they would make Earth pay was one of the first bedtime stories they all heard, the first school lessons, even the first Sunday School lessons. There was no room for empathy or titillation, just as it was too dangerous to get too angry or caught up in their eventual upper hand. Their entire planet had only the one ship, the one bomb, the one chance.

“Approaching now. Shall I bring us out of lightspeed, captain?” Godren asked.

“Go ahead,” she replied, her grey eyes as sharp and severe as the rest of her. “Weapons?”

“Locked and loaded,” Kirkan said.

“Any resistance detected?”

“None so far, but I’ll have a better idea in a few minutes when we slow down,” Natalo soothed.

“They’re too wrapped up in their own drama,” Godren muttered under his breath.

“Be that as it may, we cannot assume anything,” Kardra reminded them. They meant well, but they required a firm hand to keep total focus. Luckily she had always had an unwavering hand, whether it was holding a knife to someone’s throat or poisoning the water supply of the neighboring community when they’d kidnapped her brother over a supply battle. “Our systems are barely up to what we remember from Earth’s capabilities ages ago.”

“If they’re so advanced, then why weren’t we spotted and dealt with yet?” Kirkan pointed out.

It was a fair question. Captain Spaulding would have loved to come up on the planet, guns blazing, but a stealth approach was necessary. All they had was the one bomb, some basic laser cannons, and their ramshackle shields. Their speed was still not as advanced as the intel they’d gleamed on Earth’s fighter crafts eight years ago. She’d love to believe the whole planet was not paying attention, that the lunar and martian colonies were truly vacant and unable to warn the arrogant fools. She wouldn’t bet on it, though. The tendency for caution had not only kept her alive, but made her successful. It’s good to expect the other shoe to drop, she reminded herself.

A light on the console flashed and something pinged a tinny, sing-song of a noise. It was a quietly mocking noise.
I knew it, Karda thought, and her fist clenched, her mind swept up in black clouds.

Everyone’s breath in the little cabin caught and stopped.

The console pinged again.

“What is it?” the captain barked, straining to keep the tension out of her voice. Coolness and calm. You are the leader. Though if their whole society had worked so hard and so long only for them to be shot down now…
“It’s just a comm message,” Natalo reassured them. As one, the crew of the unnamed ship exhaled. “It’s that transmission we intercepted a while back. It’s finally coming through on our hunk of junk system.” She paused, scrolled through the readout, and hit a few keys. “Would you like me to play it? It looks fairly antiquated.”

Spaulding paused and considered. It would take their system a few minutes to fully slow and get into attack position and even antiquated information could prove useful. “Ready the obliterator. Lock in the coordinates and continue deceleration,” she ordered before addressing Natalo. “Go ahead. At the very least it will give us something to listen to while the obliterator is primed.” The crew followed her commands with utmost precision.

She was proud that her voice sounded as composed as it did. In less than thirty minutes, we’ll be dead and our names will be sung in future war anthems. Our faces will be painted in the Hall of the Brave in the capital. She said nothing of this or the sudden rush of violence and pleasure that their long-awaited victory gave her. If only I had time to spill blood one last time before the end…that would make it all perfect. The calloused fingertips that had strangled their share of the opposition felt fuzzy and awkward from the rush of adrenaline. Looking around the cramped space proved that although her crew was trying to keep poker faces in place, they were squirming and fidgeting from their own excitement. Although they kept on task their faces held the same hungry, feral feeling Captain Karda Spaulding felt echoing through her.

Natalo opened the comm frequency and cued up the signal they’d recorded while still in deep space. For a moment there was silence, then static. “I don’t know how great the quality will be,” she admitted. “It’s ancient and our systems aren’t the best—oh,” she breathed, then snapped her pouting lips shut tight. Her shoulders hitched and chest heaved a few times before she reigned herself back in check.

Patyn and Kirksan sat up straight with sharp intakes of breath. Even Godren drew himself to attention, as grizzled by hard living as he was. Spaulding herself let out a sharp gasp, as though the sound was a dagger blade that sliced straight into her soul.

Music. Of all the things to intercept, it was music.

Lost - 400x600

Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

***

Reminder: I’ll be at the Imaginarium Convention all this weekend, so come on out to Louisville to meet me and some other amazing authors! I’ll even sign Lost in the Shadows for you right there!

Also, you have until Sept 17 to enter the Night Owl Book Reviews contest – be sure to check around my blog for a hidden entry word…(pssst, go look at my books!)

Reading with SJ: Graphic Novels part 3

Published July 19, 2015 by admin

Time once again to see what I’ve had in my TBR stacks! Because I can plow through graphic novels at an alarming rate, we’ll take another look at that stack today.

The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins – I obviously picked this up because of the title because that is brilliant. Written about a perfect little island called Here and the fear of the not-island places called There, this title is wonderful about making you feel better about being imperfect and expressing yourself. It’s a weird, charming story, slightly reminiscent of Tim Burton, but lighter. It’s got a modern setting but feels much more like a strange fairy tale or like something from years ago. Read it in one sitting and absolutely loved it. I developed a ton of sympathy for the lead character throughout, and I’m still not sure what to make of the last pages. Altogether, wonderful book.

The Valiant by Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera – I was enamored with this when I saw it on the library shelf, and really excited to read it. I…honestly, I’m probably the one dissenting opinion given the reviews it’s gotten, but I felt like it moved WAY too fast and there was WAY too much going on to really enjoy the story. You never get a full description of what a Geomancer is, what Gilad is actually supposed to do or why. If the Immortal Enemy is necessary, than why are there still Geomancers? What’s his function, anyway, besides to just be evil? Is there some goal or purpose I’m totally missing? Honestly, it felt like I jumped into the middle of something, but I’m not finding any info on the right place to start, if that’s the case. There’s a huge battle scene where heroes just show up and there’s no real revelation on who they are. The Bloodshot/Kay stuff seems rushed and a little forced, which is a shame because I really like her character. I like her personal revelations, but it all seems so pointless by the end. What even happens to the Immortal Enemy? He’s this huge part of the book and then you don’t even see what becomes of him onscreen. I just…while the concepts were interesting, I liked seeing the evolution of Gilad throughout history, I just…really would have liked this to have more to it. I can’t hate it, because it is an interesting story, but I’m really confused. Befuddled. It felt like a set up for other stuff,and I get there are other heroes/books in the universe, but for this particular story…what was I actually supposed to have gotten out of it other than okay, there’s this enemy, there’s this battle, and it kinda got resolved but not really…

Seriously, someone explain this one to me.

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay – I love Jane Yolen anyway, but this book is beautiful. It’s a unique sort of story that would fit in with a lot of folkstories. The people of the Island of May assume that all the dragons were killed hundreds of years ago, but when one shows up, it’s up to the healer’s daughter Tansy to help guide the revolt against the beast. While some of this is typical fantasy and some of the characterizations are a smidge stereotypical, I couldn’t help but like the character of Tansy. She’s the youngest, she dances to her own music, yet she’s smart and compassionate. It’s also really interesting to take the time to read all the background dialogue between people of the village – the perfect interpretation of how life goes on in a town even as tragedy happens, and people’s own opinion of things and how their lives are turning out. Let me just say, I also really like the character of Lancot, and I didn’t think I was going to. Presented as a drunken hero con artist at first, he actually turns out to be a storyteller who’s cashed in on his ability to tell people of adventures they yearn to still be true. When he realizes that he’s actually been hired to kill a dragon and runs into Tansy as he tries to take the coward’s way out, she doesn’t judge him, but helps him figure out a solution based on his own interests. The kite scenes were magical, and although their relationship is a little forced/fast-paced,it’s not unbelievable. He’s a different sort of hero, but at the end of the day it’s him AND Tansy who save the day, which is refreshing. I do feel like your enjoyment will depend on what you want from a story like this. I agree with some of the commentary that the artwork is a little uneven – some pages it looks more rustic than others. It still fits with the genre, though I do agree that I wished things could have flowed a little better from panel to panel. It definitely doesn’t read like a comic book and more like a grown-up/teen story book, if that makes sense. I loved the oversized feel of the book, it made me feel like a kid reading a picture book and discovering magic between the pages all over again. All in all, though, I curled up with this late on a Friday night a few weeks ago, and had a lovely time losing myself in the pages.

The Star Wars by JW Rinzler and Mike Mayhew – I…okay, I love the original Star Wars series. I have a love/hate relationship with the universe as a whole, as a lot of fans do. I get why this was made. Conceptually it sounds interesting (and profitable): hey, let’s take the original rough draft of Star Wars and give it life in comics!

In reality? Please do not pay money for this. There are a few things that are interesting: seeing Darth Vader broken essentially into two characters (that are both confusing and pointless), Han Solo as a giant green alien, the Wookie battle Lucas originally intended for the first movie with the original Wookie design,talking R2-D2, and the Sith and Jedi as two different warrior groups with no real connection to magic or religion . Overall, though, this is such a mess. I feel like chunks were missing, it moved so fast. It reads like he was trying to cram an entire trilogy of action into one movie. There is SO MUCH political talk and fighter pilot talk…for those who have slogged through A New Hope the novel, this is worse. So much worse.

There’s also a lot of dialogue that takes you out of the story – a lot of modern/ earth phrases that just don’t fit the Star Wars universe in any form. I still have no idea how many planets were involved in this version. Theme-wise, it’s a complete rip off of Flash Gordon and a lot of serials like it. You can see very obviously what his influences were, but his interpretation of them just…no. You have plot elements that just don’t work, like Leia and Annikin Starkiller declaring their love randomly at different times in battle/action when they’ve barely known each other all that long…and after Annikin punches Leia in the face. Yep. You read that right. And she’s also portrayed as somewhat younger than her on screen version, too, so that makes it just awesome to see on the page.

Scenes like the death of Mr.Starkiller (Annikin’s dad. I’m not opening the book to look up the name), or Prince Valorum gallantly switching sides don’t mean a thing because they’re immediately glossed over and not resolved. Overall, a lot of the characters are harsh and mean or complete cardboard. While there are a lot of things that are interesting to see because you can tell what they got re-interpreted into, I just…it’s not worth it. Get it at the library if you’re that curious.

I find it hard to believe Lucas Publishing was that desperate for profits to release this into the world. I’d be embarrassed to show this to people, honestly. I get that he’s at a point where this is an interesting study of early draft, but it wasn’t necessary at all. It really adds nothing to the mythology and, if anything, I could see it compromising a lot of fan feelings for the universe. This obviously shows that Lucas prefers action and it just isn’t always a good thing. It defeats the purpose of all his interviews about the importance of storytelling, because this is a jumbled, appropriated mess. This is cross genre without trying to blend the elements into a complete new product.

The art is the strong point. Facial expressions are beautiful, movement dynamic, the choices of dress and other things to allude to what these early versions influenced is interesting…but also problematic. I honestly don’t know if a lot of these designs were original and turned into the versions we know in the movies by the original production team, or if the artist was that clever to give us all visual cues to help us keep track of things. Also, was it really necessary to make General Luke Skywalker look like a militaristic George Lucas? Seriously, that’s all I could see, and it severely turned me off throughout the book.

Which brings us to my other huge problem with this. This may be a early draft, but I am highly suspicious of it being the only early draft. This is the problem when you’re marketing things to anal fans with good memories and collections they still have in their basements. I dug around until I found my old copy of Star Wars: The Making of the Movie I bought years ago at a library book sale. It’s a children’s book written circa 1980 by Random House. Pages 58-61 talk about the Star Wars that Might Have Been. Please note that these pages include the same character designs for Chewbacca/Wookies as The Star Wars, and the SAME design that’s called Luke Skywalker in The Star Wars is referred to as Han Solo here.

It details out several other early versions: one where there was no Darth Vader, no Death Star, but the villains were a planet of Wookies who rode on giant birds. In another version, Luke was a princess who was trying to rescue her brother with the help of Han Solo, who was old enough to be her father (or militaristic George Lucas). Apparently, next came a version starring C-3PO and R2.

I fully get that this is from a kid’s book, but it was copyrighted in part by Lucasfilm, so it had to have gotten some approval to be published. I also get that there has never been a coherent timeline/streamlined story between the main titles, the EU, and everything else Lucas’s companies have tried to do. I get it. It’s hard to keep all of that streamlined, especially when it wasn’t known how big things were going to get and you’re taking things on a case by case basis. But that also, in turn, makes me wonder what draft got made into this comic, or if it was multiple drafts crafted together to be interesting/show evolution of the universe and foreshadowing, because it truly does not read like one full draft of a movie. Still, that just makes it harder, because I honestly don’t know what to believe now. Did the art team make things look similar to parts of the original trilogy and the prequels on purpose or were these things always there? Is this actually THE rough draft or one of many? Is this just another thing produced in the hopes that I feel like I have to have it and pay money for it?

Honestly, it makes me not care. If anything, it’s one of the hundreds of reasons that fandom/universe tired me out. While interesting, this just feels like one of many products put out to make money off the Star Wars name, and for no good reason. If anything, this is almost a detriment to the trilogy, because it makes you wonder how much thought actually went into things and how much was being crafted by design teams and done out of necessity. I love seeing early versions of stuff. I’m a sucker for production work. I don’t expect everything to be perfect because I know how that process works, but this…this just makes me feel sad and irritable.

Juniper Grove Presents: Twists in Time Anthology

Published June 16, 2015 by admin

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Time to see what’s new in the publishing world, and this time I’ve got a really interesting anthology for you to take a look at!

Twists-in-Time-Antho

Title:  Twists in Time

Authors:  Various

Published:  June 16th, 2015

Publisher:  Clean Teen & Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction, Time Travel

Content Warning:  Some stories may include mild violence and language.

Synopsis:  What would happen if time, the fragile thread that both leads and binds us, could be unwound as simply as untying a knot? Would we go back, charging through our own history, changing and tweaking, plucking at that fragile thread until time itself unraveled all around us? Would we create countless universes through which we could live our fantasies—or would we become our own nightmares? Would we blaze ahead, reckless and wild, into our own futures? Would we become our own heroes, or would we become villains?

Join us for a series of stories that explore time, through the eyes of those bold enough to conquer it, and foolish enough to try to control it. From the award-winning team of authors at Clean Teen Publishing, Twists in Time will both entertain and challenge the way you see the world around you. Because when one finds a way to break the barrier of time, endless worlds of possibilities emerge.

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Author Montage (1)

Featured Authors and Stories:

“After Time” by Sandy Goldsworthy

“The Fall” by Holly Kelly

“The Kiss of Time” by Amanda Strong

“With a Grain of Sand” by Kathy-Lynn Cross

“The Before Sky” by Sherry D. Ficklin

“What You Wish For” by Kelly Risser

“Tides of Time” by Julie Wetzel

“It’s The Little Things” by Jon Messenger

“Romeo and Juliet Times Infinity” by Kasi Blake

Clean Teen Publishing Links:

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Plus, you could win a great prize by going to the Rafflecopter! Giveaway is for:

A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.

Giveaway is International.

Cover Reveal: Population Morpheus by S.G. Basu

Published June 9, 2015 by admin

Time now for our look into a new title that’ll be coming soon this week!

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I feel inept writing sci-fi, myself, so I’m always in awe of people who can not only write it, but are confident enough to get it published! Plus, check out that cover! I love the Brit comedy As Time Goes By, and this is totally what Alistair would call a “Pick me up and buy me” cover!

Population-Morpheus

Title:  Population Morpheus

Author:  S. G. Basu

Published:  June 8th, 2015

Genre:  Science Fiction

Synopsis:

c.2566. The signs are clear.
The time to evacuate Earth is now.

Summons are sent. But not to everyone. Only a handful will be picked to be part of the future colonies.

– A gifted teen for a way to escape her average life. She gets an offer that is hard to refuse. Will she dare to pay the price?
– The sole survivor of the worst megatron collapse in history doesn’t know what to do–celebrate this second chance at life or become a tool of vengeance . . .
– A boy raised within a cocoon of segregation faces his biggest challenge – standing up for someone who looks nothing like him.

Thrust into an unfamiliar world held in place by a harsh set of rules, will humanity make it?
Strangers meet. Bargains are made.
Only one thing is a given–survival depends on forging the right alliances.

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***

Balik could be brutal. He demanded respect–for him, for the massive organization that was HS, for our cause. And he demanded wins. That was the hard part–fighting the GG forces that were far better equipped than us, surviving their raids and assaults and winning in the end–didn’t happen that easy.
“My best soldier,” Balik showed me a chair as he stretched on the red silk-wrapped couch at the corner. “What new plans have you got? Give me some good news.”
That was what I wanted to share with him–my next venture–the “Smokescreen.” Once Balik approved it, I had to start setting the smaller wheels in motion, and then build it up until in a few months–
“You want to shut down their ventilation system?” Balik whispered gawking, as he pulled off those dark glasses he always wore. His eyes, one brown and the other a pale gray, shone with excitement. “Sure you can pull this off?”
I nodded. “I’ve to start by rerouting the terminator boxes on Coogan’s Hill. I’ll load most of the malcode from there.”
“All right. When can you begin?”
“Day after tomorrow. Have to lay my father first.”
“Oh, yes. Go do it.”
“Okay.”
“And I don’t need to remind you this, but don’t get identified. I won’t have a marked operative back among us.”
“Understood.”
He didn’t have to remind me of the consequences, he knew I’d never forget Dobin.

SG-Basu

S.G. Basu likes to call herself a middle aged host to a forever-young heart–a heart that is addicted to dreaming.

Being an engineer by training, the worlds of futuristic fantasy that she weaves in her books spring from her interest in science and her love of engineering.

She enjoys traveling to faraway places–her writing inspired by the people she meets in these beautiful lands. Her stories are also a celebration of the influences from her travels around the world.

Ms. Basu is also an avid nature photographer. When she is not busy writing, she enjoys gardening, music and spending time in the outdoors with her family.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website | Blog

 There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

A signed, print copy of Population Morpheus

You can get in on the giveaway at the Rafflecopter!